The Best of My RPG Linkroll

In role-playing games on January 9th, 2008 at 7:18 am

A little over a year ago I added linkrolls—a list of links to gaming resources that I thought noteworthy—to my sidebar. It’s not very clear to me how much attention they get from my readers, since they are best followed using their RSS feeds, and I get no statistics on readership from them. I’m rather fond of them, though, and by way of promotion I want to post about some of the highlights—a best of the best, if you will.

First up, my favourite roleplaying-related links.

Challenge-based adventuring

from Game Design is About Structure

I’m leading off with one of the most recent entries in my RPG linkroll. Eero’s blog is wonderful and, if the volume of comments is any indication, not widely read. Any traffic I can send his way is richly deserved.

Challenge-based adventuring is a guide to setting up a “kill ’em all and let the gods sort ’em out” game that adopts a sandbox approach, instead of the better known railroaded and dungeon structures. While it doesn’t while it doesn’t help with the sky-high stat prep of some games (cough D&D 3.x cough), it’s a big step in the right direction.

Relationship Web Builder

from Sin Aesthetics

I’ll be discussing Relationship Maps (aka Conflict Webs, aka Storymaps, etc.) soon. In the meantime, check out this article, where Mo lays out a marvellous method for creating complex, conflict-laden R-Maps. It’s especially useful for those times when you find yourself short on preptime.

There is even a great example of this technique in action among the first few comments.

The Adventure Funnel

from I Waste the Buddha with My Crossbow

If you want a game that is more Clive Cussler than Jane Austen, Dr. Rotwang comes to your rescue. The Adventure Funnel is about as fast as the Relationship Web Builder, but it is oriented more toward buckling swashes and smiting baddies.

The short version:

  1. Goal
  2. Obstacles
  3. Details
  4. Assistance and Rewards

Yup, it’s just that easy.

Be sure to check out Jeff Rients’ work in the comments.

Creating Situation: a practical example

from anyway

The designer of Dogs in the Vineyard offers up an explanation of how to throw together characters with a setting and start turning them into a story full of conflict, theme and stuff.

Parenthetically, this post led directly to the development of the soon to be released RPG In a Wicked Age.

Bang Types

from Story Games

Bang is a term invented by Ron Edwards for a technique as old as RPGs. Present your players with a crisis that demands a response, without trying to stifle their response or funnel it into a predefined plot avenue. In Bang Types, Mike Holmes—maybe the most thoughtful guy in the indie RPG community—takes a swing at enumerating and describing the most important categories of bangs.

Just reading about the different categories is liable to inspire new ideas for your next session.


from Deeper in the Game

Chris Chinn offers some practical tips on developing what you need, and only what you need, for a new campaign setting. Take two or three of the listed elements, stir vigorously, and you’re ready to go.

City Built on the Body of a Dead God

from RPGnet forums

Judd Karlman‘s postings to RPGnet were a big inspiration for BHACs, campaigns based on outrageous ideas that have never been used before. Then the guy went and posted another BHAC right after I coined the term.

This time, Judd talks about a campaign set in the capital of the githyanki empire (Judd has a lot of geek love for githyanki), built on the body of a dead(?) god.

Need I say more?

Well, no. It’s all been said already on RPGnet.

Learn to Explain Failure

from ars ludi

Ben Robbins is the mind behind Lame Mage Productions, a small RPG imprint that focuses on publishing short supplements and adventures for Green Ronin’s Mutants & Masterminds superhero RPG. He also writes a really nice, if infrequently updated, RPG blog.

This instalment covers a topic near and dear to my heart: learning how to narrate failure without making it a whiff. A lot of my roleplaying history has had the heroism drained out of it by narrations of failure that make the PCs (and major villains) look incompetent, if not downright humorous. When it strikes at your character’s core competency, and he makes a mistake so bad that I, the real world person, would never make it, suspension of disbelief and engagement with the game just shrivel up and die. Rangers getting lost in the woods and engineers blowing up the spaceship they’re trying to repair come to mind here.

Ben discusses how to make character failure more fun, and offers some great suggestions for whiff-alternatives. My favourite is having a character look good while being barely outperformed by an equally competent opponent. It’s not a win-win, but it’s close enough to make everything more fun.

Right Games, Wrong GM

from Abulia Savant

Ever run a game and wish that you were playing in it instead? Yeah, me too. Don over at Abulia Savant knows our pain, too, and in this piece, he discusses why this tends to happen, and how you can fix the problem.

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I have, and that you find my Linkrolls useful in the future. If you want to see more, you can find the complete RPG linkroll archive over at BlinkList.

What interesting RPG articles have I missed over the last year? What sites do you turn to first for your RPG-writing fix? I’m always looking for new sources for links.

EDIT: Cleaned up a wonky link.

  1. What a great list, you just earned all of them a subscription in my feedreader.

  2. […] few months ago, I posted a greatest hits from my roleplaying game linkroll, a collection of links that I maintain to interesting writings about RPGs on the web. You can see […]

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